I see many pictures of beer vending machines in Japan and they seem to be right on the streets. Can folks just buy beer and walk around with it drinking?
Actually, most of the street beer vending machines have been or are being eliminated or greatly reduced. This is due to a campaign by the national tax authorities and various citizen's groups to eliminate minor abuse.. Cig machines now require a special authorization card, so sin is exiting the streets of Japan, albeit slowly. Beer machines are supposed to be of a new type that can check I.D. To be honest, I have never even tried to use one of these machines.
With the proliferation of convenience stores, it much easier now to just buy there. Much better selection, and munchies too.
There is no law against drinking beer on the street in most places, but nobody does it. Its low class. Most drinkers just find a hole in the wall instead. During festivals its ok. Some local governments, particularly in central Tokyo, have prohibited smoking on the streets recently. Nobody enforces it, but people pretty much comply. Thats true now in Shibuya, Minato, Chiyoda wards, for example.
It is considered bad manners to walk around eating or drinking. Generally you either drink it at the machine, or take it to wherever your are going, but you won't see a lot of people walking around eating and drinking all day long.
As for the beer drinking in public, it is considered low class like the ealier poster said. However if there is a table or similar there, you can usually get away with it at the table.
I agree that it's totally low class, but that also goes for eating and drinking while walking around, too. It's just not done. If you're going to do it you basically stand somewhere, usually out of the way and with your back to the crowd. If I'm really thirsty I'll buy a drink from a machine and drink it right there next to the machine. As far as I know, this is acceptable behavior, but never drink while walking. You will probably get some subtle stares for doing that. It's best to find a place to sit (Japanese squat but most foreigners do not have the limber leg joints required for this) and enjoy your drink or food.
Oh, I didn't realize I was acting low-class when I often bought iced coffes from vending machines and drank them while walking around last year in Japan! I'll have to be more careful next time.Is even drinking from water bottles while walking considerd low-class?
We saw people drinking cans of beer which they'd brought with them on the Shinkansens, usually accompanying bento boxes. As they were sitting I guess this is considerd ok.
The smoking ban on the streets seem to be gaining momentum in major cities. I was at Sapporo last week and smoking on the streets has been banned there as well. Similar to Tokyo, the signs are usually painted on the pavement at a street corner.
I still saw a lot of cigarette vending machines but did not realize you need an ID card to buy a pack?
>>>The smoking ban on the streets seem to be gaining momentum in major cities. I was at Sapporo last week and smoking on the streets has been banned there as well. Similar to Tokyo, the signs are usually painted on the pavement at a street corner.<<<<
I'm really glad to see this new trend gaining momentum. Once a trend starts in Japan, it spreads very quickly. I'm hoping to see the smoking ban in all major cities in Japan in the near future.
Regarding eating and drinking in trains, it's perfectly OK to do so in long distance trains. But it is considered a very bad manner to eat or drink in a commuter train. Putting make-up on in a commuter train is also considered rude. You'll see signs telling us "to do it at home" in train stations.
Perfectly fine to eat and drink on the Shinkasen and long distance trains. There's ususally a tray at the table for that purpose. Slightly off topic, but if you really want a fun train to go on, try the Yufuin No Mori train in Kysushu....it's like a picnic on wheels and the only Japanese train I saw with a canteen.
My last trip I told my teen age son that it was rude to walk around drinking/eating--he really took it to heart and refused point blank to take a step with drink in hand. ( I admit I bought the odd beer from a store and drank it in an inconspicuous area--but then again it only takes me about 20 seconds to drink a can of beer when push comes to shove!!!)
JR Central still has smoking cars on the Shinkansen. This makes most of the other cars secondhand smoking cars due to the ventilation systems which share the air plus the leakage between cars. I can't wait until they get rid of it altogether the way JR East has.
Smoking is still an annoyance but it is getting better.
It USED to be considered "ill-mannered, low class" etc. Yes, when I was a child, we were supposed to sit somewhere and eat/drink. (And I was terribly uncouthe when I revolted.)
But seriously, how many young kids would KNOW that TODAY?
Gomen. I beg to differ with those who posted earlier.
Go to Harajuku/Shibbs/Shinjuku and you'll see everyone and their best friend eating ice cream cones, crepe or even a hambuger! Or come to my local station at the end of the school day. All those junior and senior high school kids are eating while they're walking! Combini stores are definitely convenient!
They'll even eat on commuter trains! (Horror!) Once upon a time, eating on the train was a perk and reserved for long-distance trains ONLY -- something we all looked forward to at holiday time! Sadly, it's no longer so.
Young moms nowadays think nothing of feeding their children on the trains. It keeps them quiet and busy. Unfortunately, these children are growing up, thinking it's perfectly OK to eat anywhere. It's not uncommon to see kids (and not so kids) eating, drinking, and leaving their garbage at the foot of the train seat on even the Yamanote line! They'll even sit by the door and eat! How often have I seen someone open up a big M hamburger set-to right then and there?!
It's all too often that I discover empty cans of beer on the floor, too. The can gets knocked down and rolls up and down the floor......and no one picks it up. Except me, of course.
There's a campaign on some of the train lines -- no talking on cell phones, carry your backpack on your tummy, and no eating.
Sometimes I miss the good ol' days when eating and drinking in public were done at cherry blossom time in the park. Or on a picnic to the zoo.
Am I sounding like an old goose? LOL
OceanSkyBeach, if drinking canned coffee while walking was the only a low class behavior you did in Japan, then, you are better than most. lol
Anyway, I wouldn't worry about these little things. I often take a sip from a PET bottle anytime anywhere I feel thirsty.
Only thing I object to is that some people don't properly dispose of the empty cans/PET bottles.
Also, beer/sake drinking in the street(or on a late night commute train) is often done by drunkards who often relieve themselves or vomit. It is a bad manner to be drunk in public anywhere else but it happens in late night Japan.
There are many normal Japanese behaviors that the Westerners may think low class anyway, i.e. loud(louder the better) noodle slurping sounds, talking with mouthful, etc.
You can buy beer/sake from vending machines inside most ryokans/hotels. Enjoy.